A mad maritime horror starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson leads our top cinema picks this month
Film of the month: The Lighthouse
If the year’s most romantic month has you rolling your eyes at rose and chocolate-plastered window displays, gooey-eyed couples holding hands whichever way you look and cinema listings brimming with cheesy romcoms that hit new heights of stupidity, here’s a slightly extreme palate cleanser: a demonically good, mucky stew of a film, that reeks of seawater, petrol and hangover breath.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are the sole stars of this surreal nightmare from the director of 2015’s The Witch, Robert Eggers, and both deliver monstrously good performances.
Dafoe plays a seasoned lighthouse keeper, Thomas Wake, living on a tiny remote island, where he’s tasked with training his new apprentice, Ephraim (Pattinson) over the course of four weeks. In classic mythological fashion, a storm is brewing, and with it come mermaids, delirium, tentacles and dark secrets.
It’s difficult to classify this film—which is a huge part of its mysterious appeal. Is it a mind-bending psychological horror? Is it dreamy, Tarkovsky-inspired art house? Is it a twisty Hitchcockian thriller? Who knows.
All we know is that The Lighthouse will lure you into its depraved malaise in a matter of seconds, driving you—along with Thomas and Ephraim—to the brink of insanity.
Out in cinemas now
Clint Eastwood’s new film tells the true story of the eponymous small-time security guard who got caught up in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing of 1996. Originally hailed as a hero who discovered the backpack with the bomb, the media and FBI very quickly turned on him, declaring him the primary suspect.
It’s an engaging watch that relies mostly on its strong performances; Paul Walter Hauser is touchingly vulnerable as the gullible Jewell, Olivia Wilde shines as the predatory reporter Kathy Scruggs and Sam Rockwell brings the house down as Jewell’s foulmouthed attorney, Watson Bryant. An interesting, educational watch; but whether it’s Eastwood-good, is a whole other question.
Out in cinemas now
This captivating war drama comes from the Polish cinema auteur, Agnieszka Holland, and tells the true story of journalist Gareth Jones (James Norton) who travelled to the Soviet Union in 1933 and broke the story of the devastating famine that killed millions of people.
Though the film does feel a tad stiff at times due to awkward dialogue and ill-fitting montages, it’s mostly a consuming work that takes pleasure in chewing the scenery with cavernous long-shots and low-key colour palettes. Look out for Peter Sarsgaard’s colourful performance as journalist Walter Duranty.
Out in cinemas now
The Day of the Triffids meets Body Snatchers in this clinical horror-lite, starring Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw. Alice (Beecham) is a single mother and an overworked but dedicated plant breeder at a corporation which develops new species.
Against company policy, she covertly engineers a new, very special flower: one that makes its owner happy in return for love and care. But does her creation have a malicious agenda of its own?
Out in cinemas on February 21
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in this comedy-drama about an emotionally fragile couple who take their kids on a skiing holiday in Austria. After a brief but scary incident which leaves the family shaken up, the cracks in their individual relationships start to appear.
Based on Swedish director Ruben Östlund's critically acclaimed Force Majeure, Downhill ultimately turns out to be a mediocre cover band version of the original, but still has its strong moments that manage to tug at our heartstrings.
Out in cinemas on February 28
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